If you are reading this from the hours of midnight and sunrise you are probably in the middle of one of the most physically demanding parts of parenthood - the night feeds. Yes, the good ol' middle of the night milk feasts. This post aims to ensure your eyes do not slam shut whilst baby takes a decade to drink a few millilitres of milk.
Firstly, welcome. I am a daddy. A daddy who has experienced the cult world of night feeds.
Now, go and take a sip from one of your three cold cups of coffee scattered around the house, and relax. Let your baby lie comfortably on to you so they are able to enjoy their three course meal at 3.21am. I will now aim to provide you with a few minutes of lighthearted word making to let you know you are not alone out there.
I presume you have been wondering aimlessly for a while through the online shenanigans your smartphone has to offer, and need something to engage you whilst your baby literally milks it. Being online on your phone at 3:21am is like being on a platform of a train station at 3:21am - you know you shouldn't really be there, it is full of drunks or unknown specimens. You should be tucked up in bed. But you are not.
Anyway, being a daddy to a baby who was bottle fed, I joyfully entered the crazy underworld of these mealtimes. Pre-baby, I never really knew what to expect. I had heard whispers, legends and horror stories about these periods of time, but I had no real idea of what I was about to enter. I guess it is one of those situations in life where you simply have no idea until you actually experience them.
It is mental.
Completely surreal. No. Hang on a minute, it is crazy, lonely, cold, and desolate - did I mention it was surreal? It is as if you have been placed on to a different planet and have woken up in the dark to a screaming alien.
Depending on my work shifts my wife and I managed to split the night feeds between us. Baby became a borderline robot by requesting the first part of her three course meal bang on 11pm EVERY night. This one wasn't too bad as one of us was probably awake sitting downstairs alone in the dark awaiting nervously. We would be eagerly anticipating the first of three courses to be signalled by the baby.
11pm feed is fine.
Once you re-settle baby back in to the cot, you begin to settle. You drift off in to an unknown world of sleep - you are floating away on a boat toward an exotic chain of islands, glistening below golden sunshine, beautiful crystal-clear sea, surrounded with peace and tranquility. Your boat reaches that island...and then...BANG. Your boat comes to a shuddering halt and begins to sink.
Robot baby has hinted that they require their second course - bang on 2am. This is without doubt the hardest course to provide. You awaken from your island utopia and enter the second round of nocturnal feeds. You clamber your way down the stairs to prepare the milk which takes nigh on a week. Whilst that is cooking you realise you can time-manage the s**t out of the situation by changing the baby's nappy. But you momentarily stop in your tracks to make sure that you are actually awake. You are.
Nappy change is completed on the floor in your zombie-esque state - you have no idea whether you are wiping baby's bottom with a wipe or your wife's sock. Equally you have no idea whether you have shoved baby's nappy inside a nappy bag or inside your work bag. Either way you get it done.
Milk has cooked and the second course is ready to be served. You lie on the bed next to your half-sleeping partner, you cradle baby and serve the second course.
For some reason you decide to flick through your phone to investigate what is happening elsewhere in the world. There's nothing happening other than Facebook friends checking themselves in to Subway, Croydon.
And then you stumble across this article and relax for a few minutes.
For the final course of milk to be served, please expect robot-baby to awaken at 5am.
Please copy and paste paragraphs 10-14 for a run-down of this final milk feed.
(They really do milk it these small humans)